This column was originally published on Entrepreneur.com on 6/30/2017.
People always want to know what makes a good leader. It’s normally because they’re trying to become a leader, or they’re trying to find a leader to work for their company.
Some people are naturally good leaders. Other people have the potential to be leaders if they’re willing to develop their leadership skills. But, you need to recognize that leadership is more than standing at the front of a room, having an office or getting people to do things for you.
Leading isn’t as easy as it looks. Leaders take on more work, more stress and more demands than meet the eye. But, if you have the characteristics of a leader, you are equipped to be successful.
To be clear, there isn’t an exact set of leadership traits someone must have. I’ve found that good leaders in my company, Patriot Software, have the characteristics below. I’m positive anyone who has these characteristics has the potential to be a good leader.
One attribute of a good leader is an attention to detail. Leaders must have accurate and thorough work performance. They must scour every inch of plans and finished products to make sure all bases are covered. Nothing should go untouched. Good leaders should spot little things that go unnoticed by others.
Good leaders must also think through all the details. They must think far out into the future and consider the impact of their decisions. Leaders must consider all the possible paths.
The qualities of a good leader definitely include organization skills. They know what is on their plate and when things need to be done. They have a timeline and deadline for all their tasks. They also know what their workers are doing and what projects are coming up.
Leaders need some sort of organization system. They don’t let important papers lay around or make meetings without setting a reminder. Organized leaders know exactly what is going on around them and know where to find everything.
Knowledge is one of the most noticeable attributes of a good leader. Leaders should have a vast knowledge of the industry they are working in. And if they specialize in something, the leader should have deep knowledge in their specialization. Other people should go to leaders to ask for advice and opinions.
Leaders should also have a passion for continuously learning. Leaders should want to expand their knowledge and improve their skills.
4. Leads by example
The ability to lead by example is yet another of the attributes of great leaders. Workers should look at a leader and know exactly what is expected of them. If a leader wants workers to put in extra time, the leader should put in extra time. If workers should communicate with each other in a certain way, the leader should lead by using that communication method.
A leader must always be aware of their actions because their workers will mimic them.
5. Servant’s heart
Not only should a leader lead, but they should also serve. Leaders need to take care of their workers. Leaders should ask their workers about their needs. A good leader should be attentive to worker happiness and motivation. They care about the people around them.
Leaders must also focus on customers. Customers have needs and desires, too. Leaders should find out what customers want to please and serve them.
Integrity is a trait of good leaders. Leaders must be honest. They should never lie, cheat or steal. You should be able to trust a leader.
Leaders often are trusted with more important or sensitive tasks. Other workers must trust the leader to be truthful in their work and make the most honest decisions. The leader should have some transparency to let people know what they are doing. And the leader must be comfortable with being held accountable.
7. Give Time
Leaders are willing to give up their time for the good of their job and business. Leaders finish the job they’re doing, no matter what. If that means they take extra time to finish the job, they’ll do it.
Leaders are not clock watchers. They will put in more time than what’s expected. But putting in more time doesn’t mean leaders waste the standard work hours. Leaders use their time wisely and are focused. They organize their tasks to get the most work done in the time they have, and they’re always looking for ways to increase productivity at work.
Leaders have pride and ownership in their work. For leaders, their work is more than a job. Their work is their passion. Leaders love what they do and encourage others to become passionate about it, too.
Leaders are never satisfied with their work. They are constantly driven to improve. They are consumed and are constantly thinking about their work. And, leaders push others to get better at their work.